I claim copyright privileges for this story. It springs from a favorite fantasy of mine, and if you find it enjoyable, let me know with an email to email@example.com.
As I have said, this is a fantasy - total fiction. The names and events are only real in my imagination. Any similarity to your life or loves is not intentional.
I want to thank all those who took the time to write. Some seem to want to confess misdeeds with minors. I don't condone such abuse, and would like to caution them that there is no defense that will save them if they are discovered. This story glosses over some very serious legal problems, and should not be construed as a recitation of real life resolutions. A word to the wise should be sufficient.
The usual disclaimers apply. If you are under the legal age in your State or Country, please go read something else. If you are offended by homosexual liaisons between a boy and a man, why are you reading stuff from an erotic gay site?
For all the rest of you, enjoy.
Saturday morning was a normal one. I was glad to get back to my routine - workout, shower, coffee (breakfast for Eric), and a few chats with my IM friends. Dawn was a typical Oregon gray with a threat of rain. The snow was slowly reducing in depth, and the roads were clear, although wet, once again.
I called Tom around eight, and asked him if he was going to town. He said he had intended to so I asked him to pick up some chewable vitamins for Eric. I also called John at home to tell him of my idea for a music room at the shelter. We discussed my conversation with Josh, and he agreed that the boy needed close supervision until his grief became at least bearable.
I called my realtor, and asked if he had anything in Lincoln County that would meet my needs, He said he would look at the listings, but there was usually very little on the market during the winter at the coast. I told him to do the best he could.
Eric spent the morning watching TV. I had to smile at the way the little boy in him came out as he watched the cartoons - or at least what is now called cartoons. He giggled almost constantly, and was vociferous in his negative response to the villains. I left him chortling over the Roadrunner's antics and went to the computer room.
I brought up my word processor, and began to write down some thoughts that I wanted to include in my speech at the dedication ceremony. I was interrupted by the phone.
John's angry voice brought me up short. "The son of a bitch skipped!"
"Who?" I asked.
"Bucholtz," he said. "The bastard skipped, and stripped the mission accounts before he left. The Synod has filed charges - or will as soon as the DA's office opens Tuesday morning. They called me to ask if I knew where he was."
"Why would they think you'd know?"
"I don't know," he said with exasperation. "I guess they're grasping at straws."
"How much did he take?"
"I'm not sure," he said, "but the Bishop was really pissed. I know how much you gave them, and I imagine there was at least that much in the accounts. You were the biggest contributor, but certainly not the only one."
"So what will they do now?" I asked. "I hope they don't close the mission. There's a real need for it this time of year."
"The Bishop said they would keep it open for the time being," he told me. "He's sending another pastor out here. He should be here by late this afternoon."
"I hope they have the foresight to send some money with him," I said. " They've had the last dime from me. Besides, the shelter will take all my philanthropic gestures for the foreseeable future."
I invited him to bring Billy and come to the estate for New Year's Eve. He said he would check with Billy to see what he wanted to do, and would call back later.
Not more than a minute after John hung up, the phone rang again. It was Janet Hayes. "Hello," she said. "Is this the Llewellyn residence.?"
"Yes. This is Bob Llewellyn."
"This is Janet Hayes. I wanted to talk to you about the shelter."
"I'd like to talk to you, too," I replied, "but I don't discuss matters like that on the phone."
She was a little taken aback by my response, and said, "Well, I just wanted to ask you how you wanted it run. I have some ideas, but I'm not sure you'll approve of them. They're somewhat unconventional."
"Janet," I said a little testily, "I won't discuss it over the phone. I will be at the shelter Monday morning at eight. Until then, you should run it as you see fit. You are supposed to have the expertise to do that. That's why you were hired." I continued, saying, "I'm not in favor of starting out with anything blatantly experimental, but the decision is yours. My sole role is to foot the bills. I will have nothing to do with the day to day operations except for laying down a few basic rules."
"I see," she said. "Well, I'll see you Monday then."
"Yes. Thank you for calling." I hung up.
Janet had destroyed my train of thought, so after an hour or more of unproductive doodling, I left the speech writing for later, and went to the kitchen to prepare something for lunch. Eric came in and set the island. He watched me slice up the last of the roast beef, and dish up some of the soup I had made two days before. I had put a pound of barley in it, and it turned out well - thick and hearty - just the thing for a dreary day.
The phone rang as we finished, and I answered it. It was John calling to say he and Billy would be happy to accept my invitation to spend New Year's eve with us. I told him to bring the necessary items to stay all night. I didn't want them driving home in the wee hours. Even if John was sober, there would be a lot of people on the road who were not.
I told Eric that we would have company for the holiday, and we talked about drinking, and how it affects different people. He said, "My father got meaner when he was drunk,"
"That happens to a lot of people," I said. "Usually, they aren't very nice to begin with."
"Will you get drunk?" he asked a little apprehensively.
"I tend to make an ass of myself when I drink too much," I said, "so I'm usually pretty careful how much I imbibe. You don't need to worry about anything though. I've seen everyone that will be here when they've been drinking, and none of them are mean."
"Can I drink too?" he asked.
"I don't mind if you have a drink, but I don't want you to get drunk," I said. "Your body is not prepared for that kind of shock. Alcohol will affect you much quicker than an adult, and too much in your young system can be dangerous."
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"You have to understand what alcohol does to the body," I said. "Besides the fact that it impairs your judgement, it expands your blood vessels making your heart work harder. It's a powerful sedative too, making you go to sleep. Too much will slow your heartbeat dangerously, even cause it to stop. Teens have died as a result of drinking too much."
"Why do people drink then?"
A very logical and intelligent question, I thought. "It it gives them a buzz, and makes them feel good. At least a little does. When they cross the line to too much, they get silly or stupid, or both, and don't realize it. Then they think they can do things that will make them seem bigger or better than they are. That's what happens when they decide they can drive, or fight, better than anyone else - often with disastrous consequences.
"If you decide you want to have a drink, let me mix it for you. That way, you can have the experience safely because I would never do anything that would cause you harm. If you decide you don't want to drink any alcohol, I'll mix you a drink without any in it. A Shirley Temple is made from Grenadine and Ginger Ale. Grenadine is a sweet flavoring made from pomegranates used in some cocktails."
He thought about what I had said. "OK. I'll think about it, but I don't think I'll want any alcohol."
"It's your choice," I said, "but I think that's the best option. You might change your mind next year or even later than that, but for now I think you've made a good choice."
He smiled at me, and I was proud of myself in that I hadn't refused to let him drink, but had given him the information to make an intelligent choice. I was also proud of him for making what I thought was the right one. Too many teens would have opted to get drunk just because it would make them feel good for a few hours.
Tom knocked on the door about half past one, and dropped off the vitamins I had asked him to get. I thanked him, and gave them to Eric who took them upstairs and put them in his medicine cabinet. Then we watched one of the minor bowl games on the TV. Eric enjoyed the big screen experience more than the game, I think. Since neither of us had any allegiance to either team, we rooted for both. It was a thoroughly wonderful afternoon.
I grilled some chicken breasts for dinner, accompanied by baked potatoes and some peas into which I put a little sugar and a couple of sprigs of mint. We played a few games of Eightball, and went to bed early.
I woke early on Sunday. The clock told me it was a little after two, and I took the opportunity to go down to the computer room and finish my speech for the dedication ceremony without interruption. It was a little after four-thirty when I was satisfied with it, and I was about to wake Eric when he knocked on the outer door and called out, "Dad?"
"I'm in here Son," I answered. "Come on in."
He didn't need a second invitation. He ran in and climbed onto my lap and hugged my neck. He said, "I was going to wake you up, but you were gone."
"I got up early so I could finish my homework," I said.
"What homework? What do you mean"
"The speech I want to give tomorrow at the dedication ceremony," I said. "If I don't write it out, I'll forget things I want to say."
"What does it say?" he asked. "Are you gonna talk about Jeremy?"
"Yes," I said, "about Jeremy and the people who had a hand in his death - his father, Pastor Bucholtz, and the way our society in general thinks of street kids who sometimes have to prostitute themselves to survive."
"Can I go with you tomorrow?"
"Of course you may. I don't think I'd want to spend the whole morning without you, and besides, Jeremy was your friend. You have a right to be there."
After our workout, and a shower, we went into the kitchen, and started to make some hors d'oeuvre for the party. Eric was very good at putting the little treats together, and became quite inventive after a short while. He was full of questions about the foodstuffs we were preparing, how tastes go together, and what was the importance of wine with a meal. I answered him to the best of my ability, but some of his questions were beyond me. I told him I would give him a list of books on the subjects that interested him, and he could read up on them. We didn't need lunch because a lot of the hors d'oeuvre fell victim to "taste testing." All in all, it was a very enjoyable day, and I sent him upstairs to shower and get dressed about four o'clock. I followed for the same purpose about twenty minutes later.
Eric had opted for casual wear. He looked very nice in a pair of dark blue Haggar slacks and a pale blue shirt. He had decided to wear his Hush Puppies, and remarked that they were very comfortable. I dressed in light gray slacks and an ivory sport shirt. I decided on a slightly more festive look, and added a bright red blazer to my ensemble.
John and Billy arrived just before six, and Tom and Carl followed them by a little more than a half hour. Eric was sparkling in his "good host" role, and even Billy came out of his shell far enough to have a good time. We munched on the hors d'oeuvre while sipping our mixed drinks, and talked about the year past, and our hopes and plans for the new one. Tom and Carl started dancing together around ten o'clock, but the boys didn't think they wanted to do that so John and I sat talking while Eric and Billy found some common ground and sat across from us telling jokes and laughing while proudly sipping their Shirley Temples.
I went to the refrigerator at eleven-thirty, got two bottles of Korbel, and put them in ice buckets to keep them cool. Eric came close to me and whispered in my ear. "Would it be OK if Billy and me have some Champagne?" he pleaded.
"Billy and I," I corrected. He looked at me quizzically, so I continued, "We'll have to work on your grammar, but the answer to your question is `Yes.' You may have a glass to join in the toast to the new year, but Billy will have to ask John."
Eric went to share this information with Billy, and after they both went to John and whispered to him, John came over to me and said, "It's OK with me if the boys have a glass of wine. I don't want to see them get silly though."
I smiled at him and said, "I agree. Eric and I have discussed this so I have no qualms either."
I turned on the TV, and we all watched the countdown to midnight while I opened the sparkling wine and distributed champagne flutes to everyone. We all toasted the new year, and Tom took Carl in his arms and laid a serious lip-lock on him. Eric drank about half of his glass of Champagne, and made a sour face. He put down the glass, and came to me and hugged me. I bent my head, and kissed him lightly on the lips. "Happy New Year, Son," I said.
He smiled at me and said, "Happy New Year, Dad. It's going to be a wonderful one." Then he kissed me with fervor, and started licking my tonsils. Eric got hard immediately, and I wasn't far behind him.
Some time later, while we were both trying to suck the tongue out of each other's mouth, Billy said, "Hey you guys; Get a room."
I looked up and saw the others had completed their New Years greetings, and were watching Eric and I with poorly concealed humor. We both blushed. Eric ran from the room, and went upstairs. He was still blushing when he returned. I noticed he had changed his pants. He was now wearing black slacks. I didn't know if anyone else noticed, but if they did, it wasn't mentioned.
We finished the two bottles of Champagne, and Tom and Carl took their leave about one in the morning. John and Billy climbed the stairs a few minutes later, and closed the door to their room. Eric went to bed in his own room, and I slept alone. I had no problem with that since I had been up for almost twenty four hours.
I awoke from a very nice dream about Eric. He was calling me to come see his latest discovery. "Dad. Dad." I was aware of him shaking my shoulder, and slowly gave up the dream to find him bending over me calling, "Dad. Wake up Dad. It's late."
I opened my eyes to see his lovely face, and smiled. "Good morning, Son," I said. I also noticed it was already daylight, and when I looked at the clock, it told me it was almost seven o'clock. I sat up and said, "I guess I'd better hurry. It wouldn't do to be late this morning."
As I headed for the bathroom, I said to Eric, "Are John and Billy up yet?"
He said he didn't think so. I told him to knock on their door to wake them, but not to go in unless he was invited. He ran out of my room to accomplish my request. I drained my bladder, and stepped into the shower for a quick rinse, dried off and ran the electric shaver over my face. I dressed in my charcoal brown suit, and hurried downstairs. It was ten minutes after seven. Eric had made the coffee, and handed me my cup.
"They're up," he said. "Should I make another pot of coffee?"
"That would probably be a good idea," I said. "I think John will need some."
I went into the computer room and printed out my speech. Then, I ran off fifty copies on the copier. I intended to give one to those who wanted them - particularly the reporters so they would have no excuse to misquote me.
John was sitting at the island with a scowl on his face, and a cup in his hand. "Why are we up so early?" he asked. "The ceremony isn't until ten."
"You can go back to bed if you want to," I said, "but I have an eight o'clock appointment with Janet."
"I forgot about that," he said. "Do you want me to be there?"
"No," I answered. "I don't think it will be necessary, but I would like you to be at the dedication."
"I wouldn't miss that for the world," he said.
Eric had come in with his tie in hand, and silently handed it to me and turned around. I quickly tied it for him, and we put on our coats. "See ya," I said, and headed for the garage with Eric close behind.
I was a few minutes late, but Janet had not reached her office yet. We waited for ten minutes, and then I had one of the counselors call her. He reported that she was on her way, and she arrived less than five minutes later. I whispered to Eric that he might be able to find Josh and hang out for a while. He smiled at me, and disappeared in the direction of the dining room.
We introduced ourselves, and she said, "I'm sorry to be late. I was trying to get myself together, and couldn't find the shoes I had intended to wear. I had to change everything."
I had a few salient thoughts on women's vanity, but held my tongue. "It's not a problem," I said. "What is it you wanted to talk about?"
"Have you read my doctoral thesis?" she asked.
"No, I haven't," I told her honestly. "John Bishop has read it, and says it's a masterful piece of work. I trust his judgement."
"My research is based on actual case histories I personally gathered in the field among homeless youth. I found that most street kids are addicted to drugs, and prostitute themselves to pay for their habits."
"Are you talking about male or female prostitutes?" I asked.
"Well, the data is mostly female, but I found a surprising number of males too."
"Actually, I think you will find that virtually every boy on the streets has prostituted himself at some time or other. They do it to eat; to survive, more than to support a habit."
She looked at me with disbelief. "You can't be serious. How can you know this?" she asked.
"Because I used to prey on them for my own gratification. A hungry boy will do almost anything for a hamburger. I am gay, and I have only recently learned to sublimate my desires to the needs of others. My data is probably more accurate than yours for that very reason.
"Be that as it may, there are only two things I require of the director of this shelter. First and foremost, I will not be lied to. My definition of a lie is anything that is not the truth. I will not tolerate half truths, or excuses." She was aghast at my vehemence. "Second, I will not tolerate the use of drugs on this campus - especially the so called `recreational drugs.' I also deplore drug therapy in the cause of modifying adolescent behavior. I don't mean to imply that using drugs for the treatment of illness is wrong, but psychotropic drugs are out. I don't intend to have a bunch of zombies stumbling around here just to preserve the peace. I want these boys to behave because it's in their best interests, not because they have taken a pill."
"That's pretty close to my feeling concerning Ritalin, and some others," she said. "Even their proponents have come to the conclusion that they have been used more as a `babysitter' than as therapy. However, I think a total ban on proven therapeutic drugs like Lithium, and Promazine is overkill."
"I have no problem with the use of a drug for treating an illness or provable physical anomaly, but it seems to me that most of these agents are being used to treat the symptoms and not the disease.
"You have to realize," I went on, "that all your clients here will be under the age of eighteen, some as young as ten or twelve. Most, if not all, will be boys. They will be destitute, scared, hungry, unloved, and untrusting. Most will be angry - either at a parent who abandoned them, or at a society that has abrogated it's responsibilities to them. They are trapped in a life that is self perpetuating. Your job is not to make them socially acceptable zombies, nor is it to hide them away until they're old enough to go to prison. Your job is to break the cycle of self deprecation and poor self esteem that keeps them unwashed and hungry. Your job is to help them to see themselves as useful, honest citizens. Your job is to motivate them to improve their lot - to make them see they are worthy of trust, and can hold up their heads with pride."
"I guess I had a different view of my role here," she said. "I was excited about the research I could do under controlled conditions using the latest drugs and psychological methods. You've made me realize I was conceited in thinking I would discover the panacea for all homeless youth. Now I see that what I must do is try to provide each individual client with the emotional stability they have lost."
"That will be your primary duty to the clients, but you will also have to be an administrator for the shelter. Those duties will take up most of your time. The counselors are well qualified. Learn to delegate your responsibilities, and you'll do fine." I smiled at her for the first time.
We parted respectful of each other's beliefs, but I was confident the shelter was in good hands. She had a firm grip on the problems, and seemed to have an open mind.
Eric and Josh were waiting for me in the outer office when I finished talking to Janet. "Hi Josh," I said. "How do you like it here?
"It's a lot better than Juvie," he told me. "And the food is pretty good too."
"Do you want to go to the dedication?" I asked him.
"If you don't mind, I'd really like to, but I'm afraid I'll start crying when you talk about Jeremy."
"You're entitled to cry," I said. "You're the only who really knew him." I put my hand on his shoulder and tried to comfort him just as Janet opened the door to her office and came out. I introduced her to Josh, "This is Ms. Hayes, the director of the shelter, Josh. Janet, this is Josh Billings, a long time friend of Jeremy Shaw."
Josh stuck his hand out, and said, "How do you do Ma'am."
Janet took his hand and said, "How do you do Josh. I hope you'll be happy here."
"Yes ma'am," he said bashfully.
Eric, Josh, and I headed for the assembly hall. It seemed rather large for the number of people who were there, but I anticipated an additional number before the ceremony actually started. It was only a little after nine. I left the boys to find seats for themselves and went to check on the microphones and seating. I looked up and saw John, Billy, Tom, and Carl enter through the front door. Eric and Josh spotted them about the same time, and walked quickly to welcome them. John continued on towards the stage, while I saw Josh take hold of Tom's big paw and pull him towards the seats they had selected. I smiled to myself when I saw that the little gamin had arranged to place himself between Tom and Carl, and started an animated conversation with them both. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but Carl looked positively ethereal. Eric sat on the other side of Tom, and Billy beside Carl, both listening attentively, and nodding every so often. I nudged John and said, "Looks to me like there's a plot afoot."
John looked and said, "I wouldn't be at all surprised. I don't think Tom and Carl stand a chance." He laughed out loud, and sat down in his appointed chair. I sat down next to him, and we discussed a brief agenda for the ceremony.
Reporters started to trickle in. I was pleased there were so many. Then Janet strode in and took her seat on the stage. By ten o'clock the crowd had grown to about a hundred people with varying degrees of interest, and reasons for being there. I pegged a couple of them as protesters - angry faces among the curious.
John rose and walked to the podium. "May I have your attention, please," he said in his stentorian courtroom voice. The hall quieted immediately.
"My name is John Bishop," he began. "Some of you know me as a defense attorney, some as a civil attorney. I am here this morning as a proponent of reform - reform of the way society treats those less fortunate than most, and particularly the weakest of these, the homeless children who wander our streets, and the streets of every city in our nation. I want to introduce a man who feels the same way I do, and has done something more than talk about it. Ladies and gentlemen, Mister Robert Llewellyn.
I rose and walked to the podium, put my speech on it, and looked out on a sea of expectant faces. I picked out Eric, and saw he was about to burst with pride. Josh was holding onto Tom's arm with both hands. I smiled at my "homies," and said, "I'm glad we have such a nice turnout. It's always good to see that citizens are interested in the welfare of those less fortunate."
"I'd like to tell you a story," I began. "It's a story of love and devotion. It's a story of deprivation and want too. It's a story about a twelve year old boy named Jeremy, who had the misfortune to fall in love with another boy - a classmate - in a town not all that far from here. I say `misfortune' because this boy's father was a dyed in the wool, red-necked, faggot hater. This man couldn't conceive of his son being homosexual. He tried to beat the `devil' out of the boy. He forbid the boy to see the object of his love ever again. He enforced the edict with ever more severe beatings. He maligned and denigrated Jeremy at every opportunity. He made him do demeaning chores. In short, this man tried to kill the spirit of his own son.
"But Jeremy had steel in him. That steel was hardened in the heat of his love. The other boy loved him too, and together, they devised a plan to ease Jeremy's suffering. They met one afternoon after school, and simply walked away. They walked for several days, until they came to our town. Here, for one reason or another, they stayed, and survived as best they could for three long years. It was a hard life, but they were together. That was enough for them.
"Jeremy Shaw is not his real name. Because he had a dream that he would be famous some day, he didn't want his father to bask in his glory. Well, Jeremy Shaw is famous now. We are gathered here to dedicate this shelter for homeless youth that will bear his name for all time.
"Jeremy isn't here with us today. He was forbidden succor on Christmas Eve at the very place one would expect to find Christian kindness - the Angel of Mercy mission on Maple Street. I am told that Pastor Bucholtz has absconded with several thousand dollars - probably in fear for the results of his prejudice. He told Jeremy there was no room in God's house for a faggot.
"Pastor Bucholtz will find justice from God's hand, but what of the other options open to Jeremy. How many people did he ask for help that evening as he stood shivering in the snow? How many good Christians offered any? What of the store owner who found him buried in the snow? Did he give Jeremy a thought, or was it just an inconvenience.
"Where were the legislators who boast of all their good works? Where were the fat cats who get rich from the misery of others while spouting words of piety? Where were the Christian zealots who promised to `leave no child behind?' Where were the villagers, we are told, that it takes to raise a child?
"This is a bittersweet occasion. I say bitter because it's just one week too late to save Jeremy Shaw, and sweet because his name will hopefully remind everyone of their duty to their fellow man.
"The Jeremy Shaw Memorial Shelter will welcome anyone under the age of eighteen without questions or demands. We only ask them to treat others as they want to be treated - with respect and tolerance. We are limited to slightly more than one hundred beds, but even if there isn't a bed available, we will not throw a youngster out into the cold to die.
"There is a dining room where all will be fed. There is a clinic with a resident pediatrician where we will bind up their wounds when necessary, or treat their ailments without cost to them. And there is solace and comfort to dispel their despair. Every one of the staff is educated in psychology - either as a major or a minor subject. All are graduates of respected universities, most with honors, and all have at least three years experience working with disadvantaged youth.
"An education will be available for those who want to improve themselves. We have three teachers who will come in as required, and no young mind will go to waste.
"I hope the boys who come here will find friendship. Certainly the opportunity for that will exist. There are three boys currently in residence. I hope there will be many more in the not too distant future.
Now, I'd like to introduce our director, Janet Hayes. Ms. Hayes comes to us with a long history of working with homeless youth, and a PhD in Psychiatry."
I turned and smiled at Janet as I left the podium. She grimaced at me, but took the floor. She said very little of substance, but she introduced the staff, and gave a synopsis of each one's credentials. I took note of how quick on her feet she was.
John reclaimed the podium when Janet finished with the introductions. "If the press people would like a copy of Mister Llewellyn's speech, copies are available here." He held up the folder I had brought. "If anyone has any questions, please contact any one of us. We will answer as best we can."
One of the men with an angry face shouted from the back of the room, "How much is this faggot heaven going to cost us taxpayers?"
John grimaced at the terminology, but said, "I find both your words and your attitude offensive. This is a private, non-profit project to provide help for disadvantaged youth, made necessary by hate and prejudice such as yours. To answer your question; it is a privately funded corporation. No tax money has gone into the construction, and none will be required for its operation. Tax deductible donations, however, will be accepted if you feel generous."
As John expected, the man quickly ducked out the door and disappeared. He turned to me and said, "Gee, was it something I said?"
I nodded in the direction of the door, towards which Tom had been moving. "I think he decided discretion was his best option."
The crowd started to thin out, and it was easy to locate Eric and the rest. All I had to do was find Tom's huge frame slowly moving towards the stage. A sad-faced woman stopped at the steps to ask if she could speak to someone in charge. John was about to call Janet over when the woman added almost in a whisper, "My name is Andrea Thompson, and I think Jeremy Shaw may have been my son."
John looked at her, and called to me. "Bob, I think you need to talk to this lady."
I stepped across the stage and asked what I could do to help her. "I think I may be Jeremy's mother," she said. "Is there somewhere we could talk?"
I took her by arm and gently led her to one of the side rooms used for counseling. When we were seated, I asked, "What makes you think you are Jeremy's mother?"
"When my husband threw Jeremy out of the house, I had no say in it," she began. "I was nursing my sister in Ohio, and when I returned to Oregon, my son was gone - vanished as if the earth had swallowed him up. I tried to get some information from the Billings', but they were no longer my friends. They blame us for the `corruption' and disappearance of their son Joshua.
"I subscribe to several newspapers throughout the state, and some in California," she continued. "I search them religiously for any little item that might apply to Jeremy or Joshua. I have done this for the past three years. I believe my search is over. The only question I want you to answer is `Do you know the whereabouts of my son, and Joshua Billings.'"
I thought long and hard as to what I should tell this woman. I finally decided that hard as it might be, the truth was the only thing that would give her peace. I called John on my cell, and asked him to have Tom bring Josh to the room we were in. "I think I may be able to help you resolve your search," I said to her, "but the news is not what you want to hear."
She nodded and said, "I read the item in the local paper here, and saw the picture. I have prepared myself for the worst. Please tell me."
"Jeremy is dead. I only knew him slightly," I said. "I never actually spoke to him, but he did share in some of the sandwiches I bought for a group of street kids last summer. There are four boys here who knew him better than I, and one of them is Josh. I've called to have him brought here. Please understand that I will brook no abuse of this boy. He is still grieving for Jeremy, and is very close to suicide."
"I just want to ask him about Jeremy," she asserted.
A knock on the door was followed by an apprehensive Josh's head peeking in. "You wanted to see me?" he asked.
"Yes, Josh. Please come in and close the door." I saw Tom's presence behind him as he let go of the huge hand, and said, "Why don't you bring Tom in with you."
He did as he was bidden, and almost fainted when Andrea turned around and said, "Hello Joshua."
Tom caught him before he could bolt, and asked a bit testily, "What's this all about, Bob?"
Josh almost shouted to Tom, "That's Jeremy's mother. She threw his clothes out the door into the mud when his old man kicked him out."
I was instantly angry. This woman had lied to me. She had not been in Ohio. She had been an active participant in Jeremy's eviction. I stood up and said, "This interview is over! Tom, get Josh out of here!"
Josh was sobbing with his arms as far around Tom's waist as he could reach. Tom reached down, picked the boy up, and quickly exited.
Andrea Thompson's face had become a mask of hate. "I'll see to it that you faggot lovers are all sent to prison for killing my son," she spat out.
"You do what you think you have to," I said, "but be very sure you have all your facts straight. We are not the ones who abused and denigrated either of these boys. I have no fear of how Josh will testify, and it may well be that you and your husband become the ones who are convicted of abuse - along with your friends, the Billings'."
John opened the door, and came into the room. He had heard the end of what I said, and added his two cents worth. "I represent both Josh and Mister Llewellyn," he said. "If you intend to file charges against either of them, I will be forced to investigate every aspect of your life from the time you started abusing your son."
Her mouth dropped open, and she realized she had no friends there. "What do you mean?"
"Does `Movie Night' mean anything to you?" The woman blanched. "My investigator found some very interesting information about you and your husband while he was helping the CSD caseworker look for Josh's parents. Since you were not the object of his investigation, he only reported to me, but should you attempt to make life miserable for my clients, I assure you he will be told to turn his report over to the District Attorney in your county."
John continued without mercy. "Your son's death is directly attributable to your inability to understand and forgive him. There were other factors, but none of that would have happened if you had just loved him enough. Josh was the only one he could turn to. They loved each other so much that they were willing to endure all kinds of hardship and depravity just so they could be together. It was a fluke of fate that they were not together on Christmas Eve or they might both have been found in that snowbank."
"Get out of here," he said with disgust. "Go home and congratulate your homophobic husband. Tell him that the two of you got away with Jeremy's murder. Tell him there is one less faggot in the world." He jerked the door open, and she fled in shame.
John followed her out, and took down the license number of the car she was driving. Then he called the police dispatcher, and asked then to make sure she left town. I walked up to hum as he was completing his request. "What's that about? I asked.
"I was pretty hard on her," he said. "There's no telling how she will react. I just wanted to make sure she doesn't come back with a gun, and clean house." He smiled, and added, "I never trust a woman to think logically."
"I can't imagine what she expected to gain," I said. "Why would Jeremy's mother want to find Josh?"
"I have no idea," said John, "but one thing is certain. It had nothing to do with anything that bodes good for him."
I agreed with him, and went to find Tom and Josh. I found them in Josh's room. Tom was sitting on the edge of a chair three sizes too small for him, and Carl was lying on the bed with Josh, holding him, and trying to comfort him. Josh was sobbing uncontrollably, "Why did she have to come. It was such a nice day, and she ruined it."
I am neither a violent or vindictive person, but I found myself hoping that a just God would provide an icy freeway for her trip home. Tom looked up, and I motioned him to the door. He stepped into the hall with me, and asked, "What's up?"
I could think of no way to couch my question in any but direct terms, so I asked, "Are you and Carl thinking about adopting Josh?"
Tom blushed, and said, "We have talked about it a little, but I don't know if Josh is willing. This is certainly not the time to ask him."
"I doubt that will be a problem," I said. "Talk it over with him when the time is right. When you're all sure what you want, let me know. If you decide to adopt, I'll have John start the process. I think a stable home is just what he needs." And if he lives with you on the estate, it would give Eric a playmate, I thought.
I went in search of Eric, and found him, along with Billy, Bobby, and Sam, helping the staff fold and stack the chairs that had been set up for the ceremony. The stage had been lowered into the floor, and sofas and overstuffed chairs were being brought out of hiding to turn the assembly hall back into a comfortable lounging area. I sought out Josh's counselor, and filled him in on the newest problems with Mrs. Thompson. He said he would talk to Security to ensure there were no strangers stalking the campus..
I caught a glimpse of the doctor talking to Janet by the dining room door. I went over to him, and asked, "Have you seen Josh Billings?"
He looked at me and said, "Not in the last few minutes, but I am going to look in on him when his visitors leave." He looked at me closely and continued. "I understand your aversion to drug therapy, but I think this is a case where a mild sedative would serve as a preventive measure. He is emotionally exhausted, and needs rest. In fact, it's more than a need. It's imperative before he implodes."
"That's what I wanted to discuss with you," I said. "I agree he needs something to calm his nerves, and provide him with some rest. The problem is that he may have bad dreams, and I wanted to ask you to have someone he trusts stay with him until this episode fades."
"Who do you suggest?'
"I thought maybe Bobby or Sam would fill the bill - maybe both."
"That's not a bad idea," said Janet. "They know each other, and if there is an emergency, one can stay with him while the other goes for help."
The doctor concurred, so I went to talk to the boys. Bobby and Sam were overjoyed to be given an important duty that would help their friend, and ran off to find the doctor for instructions. I put my arms around Eric, and gave him a hug. "Let's go home, Son. We've done about all we can here."
"Can we stop for Pizza?" he asked.
John walked up with Billy in tow, and said, "Billy wants to stop for Pizza. Do you want to join us?"
"Eric was just talking about the same thing," I said.
Billy said, "Two great minds with but a single thought," and the boys did a high five with a giggle.
John said, " The really scary part is that they made it seem like it was our idea."
"It's simple thought transference," I said. "All teenagers are capable of it."
We all laughed and drove to the nearest Pizza Parlor. We ordered two medium (for the boys) and two small (for John and me), and had a good time talking about what the boys had done to occupy their time. From what they said, I gathered that Josh had been a happy, normal teen until the Thompson woman showed up. God, how I hate conniving females, I thought.
I had to use the remote to open the gate since Tom and Carl were not back yet. Eric and I went up to the house, and I took a nap until six o'clock. I had plainly run out of gas.
When I woke up, I was a little disoriented. It was dark outside, and I was still fully dressed. Eric was lying next to me with his arm draped over my chest and his face nuzzled into my neck. I discovered he had removed my shoes, and loosened my belt and tie to make me more comfortable. I reached up and turned on the light. He was still in his clothes too. I smiled, and ran my hand over his beautiful, golden hair. "Eric," I said softly. "Son."
He screwed his face a little further into my neck, and said, "Mmgpht"
"I have to get up, Son."
"I know, but if I don't get up, we're going to have to swim for our lives."
His head came up suddenly. His eyes were wide open, and panic was written all over his face. The process of understanding was wonderful to watch, and as comprehension displaced the panic, he started to laugh - not his perfect little giggle, but a full throated belly laugh. I laughed with him as we disentangled ourselves, and I got up to relieve myself. I decided to shower and put on something a little more comfortable. I started the water running, and had just stepped into the warm spray when Eric joined me. He was still chuckling, and he hugged my waist, saying, "I love you so much."
I hugged his shoulders and said, "I can't imagine a life without you. I love you more than my life."
We stood there with the warm water flowing over us for a while enjoying the closeness. I finally pushed him away a bit, and lifted his chin with my finger. His eyes were glazed, and I asked him, "Again?"
He blushed, and nodded. "It only happens when I'm with you."
"I'm glad of that," I said with a chuckle. "It could be very embarrassing if it happened with everyone."
He looked at me and giggled. "I'd have to carry a suitcase full of clean underwear." We laughed over that picture while we dried off. Eric ran to his room to dress, while I put on clean sweats. We met at the head of the stairs, and walked down to the kitchen together.
I rummaged through the freezer while Eric set the places at the island. I found the remains of a beef stew I had made two or three weeks before, and put it in a pot over a low flame to heat. I sliced up some french bread, and got the butter out of the fridge. "Do you want a salad?" I asked.
"Nah," Eric answered. "It's too much trouble."
I agreed, and said, "I'm going to check my email while the stew heats. Do you want to come along?"
He followed me into the computer room, and I turned the machine on. There were a couple of messages from web friends, one of which I answered. The other was not that important so I deferred answering it.
.We went back into the kitchen and ate the stew. Eric was dishing up a portion of ice cream for himself when the intercom beeped. I answered it, and heard Carl's voice say, "Hi boss. We're home."
"How's Josh, Mommy?" I joked.
"He's sleeping peacefully with two angels guarding him," he said without even a twitch in his voice. "I wish we could afford to bring them all up here. They are so starved for love. Bobby actually cried when we left."
"I know what you mean," I said, "but I doubt we could handle a cast of thousands. We can only give others the opportunity to join the fight against prejudice."
"You mean all the boys will be eligible for adoption?"
"Of course," I said. "We have to have a turnover, or we'll run out of space in a month. I expect a heavy influx of homeless boys as soon as the news hits the grapevine"
"Well, Tom and I want to adopt Josh if that's all right with you."
"I hoped you would want to. You'll have to get Josh's permission, but I don't see that as a problem," I said. "I've already talked to Tom a little bit about it."
"He mentioned it in passing, but didn't go into detail."
"We'll get together in the next few days, and go over the possibilities," I said. "Maybe we could sign Josh out for a few days when he gets back to normal, and out from under the doctor's care."
"Sounds good," he said with some enthusiasm. "I'm going down there tomorrow if that's OK. I want to keep tabs on him."
"That's fine. Keep me in the loop." I hung up, and said to Eric, "It looks like Josh will be living in the gatehouse if we can swing it."
He jumped up and ran to me for a hug. "That's great. We get along real good."
I gathered him into my arms, and wished I was a teenager once again. Things seemed so simple then.
There you have Chapter 8. I'll post chapter 9 as soon as it's finished, but that may be a while. I haven't started it yet.
Comments are welcome at: firstname.lastname@example.org.